It may be as handsomely presented as we’ve come to expect from its developer, yet otherwise Gentlemen! doesn’t conform to type. Lucky Frame’s fondness for fusing game mechanics and procedurally generated music is absent in a two-player deathmatch that sees a pair of Victorian fellows settle their differences with dynamite and combustible homing pigeons.
The result skilfully combines the arcade immediacy of Super Crate Box with the weaponised chaos of Super Smash Bros, and VVVVVV’s instant gravity-switching: the flip button allows for freakish acrobatic feats, necessary to avoid the deadly attentions of a bowler-hatted rival. The first to four kills wins in each of the three game modes, though Diamond Duel also lets you triumph by grabbing three gems before your opponent, while Chase forces you to take turns with the weapons.
Indeed, fighting over bombs and throwing knives is a feature of every game. There’s a temptation to lunge for the weapon-switch icon as soon as it appears, though savvy players can use the distraction to attack an opponent whose fingers briefly leave their own fire button. With both players holding the same device, there’s plenty of room for underhand tactics, while the option to allow self-harm frequently leads to amusing mishaps, usually involving a bomb and an unfortunate bounce.
Coming from the studio behind Wave Trip and Bad Hotel, Gentlemen’s sharp, stylish menus and app icon were always a given, but a conceptual curveball like this was hardly guaranteed to hit its target. That it does so emphatically is convincing proof that this Edinburgh studio is no one-trick pony.